Friday, March 25, 2016
Monday, March 21, 2016
I'm thrilled to take part in the Excerpt Blitz for Pintip Dunn's upcoming YA thriller, THE DARKEST LIE! Check out the book below, along with the teaser excerpt, and be sure to enter the giveaway!
THE DARKEST LIE by Pintip Dunn Publisher: Kensington Publishing Release Date: June 28, 2016
“The mother I knew would never do those things. But maybe I never knew her after all.” Clothes, jokes, coded messages…Cecilia Brooks and her mom shared everything. At least, CeCe thought they did. Six months ago, her mom killed herself after accusations of having sex with a student, and CeCe’s been the subject of whispers and taunts ever since. Now, at the start of her high school senior year, between dealing with her grieving, distracted father, and the social nightmare that has become her life, CeCe just wants to fly under the radar. Instead, she’s volunteering at the school’s crisis hotline—the same place her mother worked. As she counsels troubled strangers, CeCe’s lingering suspicions about her mom’s death surface. With the help of Sam, a new student and newspaper intern, she starts to piece together fragmented clues that point to a twisted secret at the heart of her community. Soon, finding the truth isn’t just a matter of restoring her mother’s reputation, it’s about saving lives—including CeCe’s own… Goodreads | Pre-order from Amazon or Barnes & Noble!
“This one will tug your heart and leave you breathless!” --Natalie D. Richards, author of Six Months Later
Excerpt from THE DARKEST LIE
It’s time to view the body. Family first. Well, technically, me first. There was always only three of us in the nuclear unit, and Dad’s been locked in the den for the past seventy-two hours. I’ve only seen him once, when he shuffled upstairs like a pajama-clad zombie and asked me if I’d eaten. That was it: Did you eat? Not: I prefer the cherry wood casket. Or: Let me make your grandma’s travel arrangements. Or even: I know this was Mom’s favorite dress, but isn’t the neckline a little...low? Did I eat? Yes, Dad. I had soup from the can and microwaved pizza rolls and a bowl of cereal. The food sloshes in my stomach now as I walk down the runner to the casket I picked out because of its mauve tint. Calla lilies pile in urns around the viewing room, and the air-conditioning wars with the sweat along my hairline. My mom smiles at me from a portrait erected behind the casket. Her eyes are hesitant and a little wary, as if she knew, somehow, some way, she would wind up here. Lifeless. Pumped full of formaldehyde. About to be gawked at by a town full of gossips. This was only going to end one of two ways—with Tabitha Brooks dead or in jail. I never thought I’d say this, but I’d give anything to see my mother behind bars. I wade through the dense, chilly air and stop a few feet from the body. Behind me, my grandmother and aunt sit, a box of tissues between them, blowing their noses like it’s a sport. “Look at our Cecilia,” Gram sniffs. “So brave. Not a single tear shed.” If she only knew. I’m not brave. Fifteen minutes ago, I was retching into the toilet bowl. Five minutes from now, when the doors open for the visitation, I’ll be long gone, leaving Gram to shake people’s hands and deal with the bit lips, the knowing eyebrows, that inevitable speaking-in-a-funeral-parlor whisper. I can hear the titters: “Is it true? Tabitha’s heart stopped while she was boffing the high school quarterback? Why, she must’ve been twenty years his senior!” Twenty-three years, to be exact, and a high school English teacher to boot. But she didn’t actually die during sex. Instead, a few days after Tommy Farrow came forward with their affair, my mother took her own life. What could be a clearer admission of guilt? She might as well have been caught in the act. The investigation was shut down before it even began. I take a shuddering breath. Two more minutes. A hundred and twenty seconds and then I can leave. I steel my shoulders and walk the final steps to my mother’s body. Oh god. It’s even worse than I thought. The room whirls around me, and nausea sprints up my throat. My hands shoot out to grab the casket, stopping short of actually touching the corpse. This . . . this thing . . . can’t be my mother. She never smiled like that, all serene and peaceful-like. She never wore this much makeup; her red hair was never chopped so closely to her head. My mother was chaos and passion, devastation and joy. Dad used to say you could reach deep into her eyes and pull out a song. Well, her eyes are closed now, and I’m not sure there’ll be any music in my life, ever again.
About the AuthorWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads
Pintip Dunn graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL. She also published an article in the YALE LAW JOURNAL, entitled, “How Judges Overrule: Speech Act Theory and the Doctrine of Stare Decisis,” Pintip is represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House. She is a 2012 RWA Golden Heart® finalist and a 2014 double-finalist. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Washington Romance Writers, YARWA, and The Golden Network. She lives with her husband and children in Maryland. You can learn more about Pintip and her books at www.pintipdunn.com.
Giveaways (2!)One winner will receive a prize pack including the following 5 books: Forget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn; Six Months Later by Natalie Richards; Find Me by Romily Bernard; and From Where I Watch You by Shannon Grogan; Lies I Told by Michelle Zink a Rafflecopter giveaway
Friday, March 18, 2016
Monday, March 14, 2016
ATTEND A FANTASTIC WRITERS’ CONFERENCE IN
A STORY-BOOK SETTING
If you’ve ever been to a writers’ conference, you know they’re pretty much a whirlwind experience. Usually lasting two to three days, a good writers’ conference can leave you inspired, yet more exhausted than a woman who’s just given birth to triplets. Also, a popular conference is likely to have hundreds of attendees, which makes your chance of getting individual attention about as probable as losing weight on the chocolate cake diet.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a writers’ conference with enough fun time between workshops to allow your brain to relax, and creativity to flow? And what if a professional author or editor at that conference had actually read your stuff and offered, not only helpful feedback, but the moral support and personal career advice you would only get from a mentor?
Well, there is a writers’ conference exactly like that, and you can attend it. There’s only one catch. You have to be willing to visit castles, ancient abbeys, spooky caves, stone circles, holy wells and Celtic ring forts in between the scheduled conference days. That’s because this is a conference combined with a tour of Ireland. Yes, it sounds like a great hardship, but if you’re serious about your writing, isn’t it worth having a gourmet dinner in a haunted castle and listening to a bit of faerie lore in an enchanted Irish forest?
Of course, in between all that touring, there will be serious writing days with schedules that look something like this:
Writing Authentic Characters that Leap from the Page
Organizing your Novel from start to finish: Plot, Subplot, and the Dreaded Outline
Editing Techniques: Macro & Micro + The Emotional Journey of Each Draft
Series Writing from A to Z
Effective Use of Social Media
Each conference/tour is limited to only twelve people, which allows for the individual mentoring experience. This July, multi-published authors and editors, Lisa Maxwell (Sweet Unrest, Gathering Deep, and Unhooked) and Jaye Robin Brown (No Place to Fall, Will’s Story, and Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit) will be guest faculty for the conference entitled, “Bringing Your Manuscript to Life: Building Worlds, Characters, and Stories that Sell.”
Here, the authors and tour coordinator describe what participants can expect from Ireland Writer Tours (IWT):
PAT: Lisa, you and Jaye (JRo) will be teaching workshops on the conference days. We’ve got a tiny example (above) of previous workshops. Can you tell us what sorts of workshops you will be teaching this summer?
LISA: We’ll be tailoring the workshops to the specific interests of the group. Each participant fills out a 3-page registration form and tells us what they’re writing, where they are in the process, what specific writing assistance they’d like to receive at the conference, and what their writing goals are. Based on the responses on those registration forms, JRo and I will come up with workshops specifically designed to meet the needs of the twelve participants.
PAT: JRo, will you be reading manuscript pages from the participants?
JRO: Yes, Lisa and I will read and comment on at least fifteen pages from each participant before the conference begins. Then, during the conference, we will schedule private one-on-one consultations with each writer to discuss our comments and their questions, etc.
PAT: This one’s for both of you. I’m assuming you’ve both been to writers’ conferences. What was your most valuable conference experience?
JRO: For me, one of the most valuable experiences, is to be in a community of fellow writers who are also serious about publication, or at least their craft. Writing with those goals in mind can be incredibly solitary, so to have a community where you are all working together in an intense, concentrated period of time is energizing and inspiring.
LISA: I think one of the best experiences I’ve had was a retreat that I went to during my debut year. Just being able to work all day with other writers and then spend the evenings talking about their real-life experiences with publishing was invaluable to understanding my own place in the industry—how to negotiate those tricky parts, how to keep going when things seemed tough.
PAT: Lisa, have you ever had a writing mentor, and if so what was the relationship like?
LISA: I’ve actually never been lucky enough to have a specific mentor. When I first started writing, I was lucky enough to be in an RWA chapter with Jennifer Echols, and she was really, truly generous to a newbie like me. She never read my pages, but she was an amazing sounding board for advice about the publishing industry—querying, submission, working with editors, and the like.
PAT: JRo, what post-publishing experience has been the most profound for you that you might share with IWT participants?
JRO: I am both a high school teacher and a young adult author. The most profound moment came for me the day after my book launch. The launch was attended by people from all different walks of my life, including some students. The next day it was back to the classroom for me. At lunch, a time when my room is always populated with a few kids who want to escape the melee of the cafeteria, three students were laying belly down on my tables reading my book. It was surreal! And profound, because my first novel, NO PLACE TO FALL, is set in the area where I teach and I knew, or hoped, that these young adults would see themselves on the page.
PAT: The tours are being coordinated by professional tour guide, Fiona Claire. Fiona, what made you decide to put together a writers’ conference and tour?
FIONA: There were several reasons. First of all, there’s nothing else like it – I’ve checked. I’ve had my own small tour business in the west of Ireland for well over ten years, and have also worked as a tour guide for those giant bus tours. I love showing people around my homeland, and sharing old Irish legends, stories, history. Last year, one of the IWT participants was enjoying herself so much, she told me, “I feel like I’m living inside a kid’s storybook.” Those kind of comments make my job an absolute joy.
Secondly, I love North American-style writers’ conferences but there just aren’t any in Ireland. So I thought it would be a fun idea to combine those two things, and so far, writers have really enjoyed the experience.
PAT: Where do you take people on the tours?
FIONA: We are based at a nice hotel in a small village in the west of Ireland. The tours are on Monday/Wednesday/Friday, in between the workshop days, and include many sites in Galway, Clare and Mayo Counties, as well as the Aran Island of Inis Mor. There’s a full itinerary on our website, here: www.irelandwritertours.com
PAT: And is it difficult to reach that small village – will people get lost on their way there?
FIONA: Oh, no! We make it super-easy for participants and give in-depth instructions for everything from best flights to airport/Galway connections, Euro/Dollar exchange and how to avoid jet lag. I also help participants connect with each other and meet-up before the conference, if they decide to come in a day or two early, as well as offer additional hotel and travel advice. In the past, participants have gotten along so well that they formed a secret Facebook group to keep in touch, and even a writers’ support group that meets via skype.
It sounds like an all-around terrific summer experience that can have profound benefits throughout a writer’s career. So if you’re looking for a fabulous writers’ conference in a story-book location, with the potential of making a gaggle of writer friends and getting great advice from professionals, you’d better hurry over to the Ireland Writer Tours website and register. This is an opportunity you don’t want to miss.
IRELAND WRITER TOURS: http://www.irelandwritertours.com/
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
I’m thrilled to share a wonderful guest post today by Melanie McFarlane, author of THERE ONCE WERE STARS.
When I mention my love for dystopian began with Ray Bradbury, people say, He’s an obvious pick, who else do you like? Well there are many others, such as Orwell, Ellison, and Collins—my list can go on and on, adding both established and debut authors as this is one of my favorite genres. But no one will ever have the impact that Ray Bradbury had on my life, and it is because he was presented to me through the mind of one of the greatest English teacher’s I’ve ever had the pleasure to learn from: Gary Hyland.
A poet by trade, Mr. Hyland was a legend before I ever stepped foot in his classroom. There were stories that if you were caught talking he’d toss a chalk brush at your head to get your attention, and once he’d even heaved a desk across the room. Though the desk tossing was likely an exaggeration, whenever I saw an empty seat in the front row, my heart would race from the possibilities.
We lived in a small city in the middle of the prairies, where opportunities seemed few and far between, but inside that classroom he introduced us to the wonders of the world in the confines of our four cement walls. We were flanked to the south by a self-made library of Mr. Hyland’s creation, of which we were encouraged to borrow from and indulge in books we wouldn’t know were available until college, such as Dante’s Inferno and Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale. To the west were posters of some of Canada’s great poets, like Lorna Crozier, and others who made personal sacrifices to become the masters of their craft. To the north was a wall of windows, revealing a grain elevator, an element of Saskatchewan’s landscape, keeping us rooted in reality.
But to the east Mr. Hyland stood, perched at the front of the class, ready to break through our clouded minds with treasures like CBC radio recordings, and props like unsmoked Turkish cigarettes hidden in the depths of his desk, offering us glimpses of the arts like sunrise on the horizon.
We waited at the edge of our seats, listening for some glimpse of an escape from the monotony of the norm. And when he held up a paperback copy of Fahrenheit 451, I fell in love with a genre I didn’t know existed. I devoured that story within days, allowing it to imprint my mind in ways like no other—for what was a world without books, without knowledge, without the arts—and its influence never left me in the decades that followed after opening that first page.
So yes, when I say my love for dystopian began with Ray Bradbury, it has roots much deeper than the popularity of this icon. My love for dystopian began in a tiny classroom in the middle of the Canadian prairies, where every year students were taught to see the world beyond the wall of windows, and learned why things like books, education, and the arts are worth fighting for.
Thursday, March 3, 2016
Today I’m going to be interviewing Anna-Maria “Ann” Solano. She’s the main character in the young adult science fiction novel, FACSIMILE by Vicki L. Weavil.
FACSIMILE releases on March 8th.
For a ticket to Earth, seventeen-year-old Anna-Maria “Ann” Solano is willing to jettison her birth planet, best friend, and the boy who loves her. Especially since all she’s required to do is escort Dace Keeling, a young naturalist, through the wilderness of the partially terraformed planet Eco. Annie’s determination to escape the limitations of her small, frontier colony never falters, until Dace’s expeditions uncover three secrets. One offers riches, one shatters Ann’s perceptions of herself, and one reveals that the humans stranded on Eco are not its only inhabitants.
Ann’s willing to sacrifice friendship and love for a new life on Earth. But when an entire species is placed in jeopardy by her actions, she must make a choice—fulfill the dream that’s always sustained her, or saving the planet she’s never considered home.
1. Ann, how about if you describe yourself for us?
I am a seventeen-year-old girl, born and raised on the planet Eco. Never heard of it? I’m not surprised. It’s basically a backwater planet that most spacers ignore, unless they need to stop to repair their ships, or barter some goods for our fresh, hydroponically-grown vegetables and fruits.
My grandparents were sent to terraform Eco into a facsimile of Earth’s most beautiful landscapes, but the corporation funding their project went bankrupt and stranded them on a planet with a breathable atmosphere and underground water reserves, but no arable soil. They and the other terraformers, along with their families, have been scratching out a subsistence living on Eco ever since.
As for my looks – I definitely take after my dad’s side of the family, who are originally from Peru. I have their dark brown hair, dark eyes, and light brown skin – as well as a distinctive nose that harkens back to my Incan ancestors. My mother, who is very blonde and petite (her parents hailed from the Appalachian Mountains) claims I resemble her about the mouth and chin, but I’m not so sure. I do take after her in terms of determination (and maybe a touch of ruthless ambition) though.
2. What’s your profession?
I am apprenticed to my grandmother, Paloma Solano, who is a botanist. She’s training me to take over our hydroponic greenhouses when she gets too old to manage them. (Although, knowing my grandmother, that will be far in the future!)
I also plan to take some college courses through the ‘sphere, unless I can get off Eco and somehow find a way to attend a real university.
3. Do you have a special skill?
Not really. My sort of boyfriend, Raid, says I’m good at flirting, which I must get from my mom. I’m fairly intelligent, I guess, but nowhere near as smart as my best friend, Emmie. I did discover that I have an innate ability to swim like a fish … but that’s probably something I shouldn’t talk about too much.
4. What is your biggest dream/wish/desire?
I really have one goal – to live on Earth, my grandparents’ birthplace and still the planet I consider my true home. I’m willing to do just about anything to accomplish that dream.
5. What’s your darkest secret?
I’ve lied to a lot of people – including Emie and Raid – about something important. It was a necessary lie, though. It’s all part of my plan to get the hell off of Eco. If I succeed, it will be worth it. I think.
6. What’s your favorite pastime/hobby?
I love jumping on my solar bike and riding out into the wilderness. It’s great to get away from the close quarters of the colony and just be by myself. Sometimes I even find these purple rocks I use to barter with passing space traders. (They aren’t actually amethysts, but don’t tell the traders that!)
7. Describe the craziest thing you have done.
Following Dace (Dacian Keeling, a visiting young naturalist) into that cavern! Although, as it turned out, it was also one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have met the … Oops, better keep mum about that for now.
8. Shoes or barefoot, which do you prefer?
You can’t go barefoot on Eco. The ground is basically stone, covered with a fine dusting of sand. Boots are pretty much required, unless you want to bruise your feet – or burn them when the sun heats up the rocky surface.
9. How about food? What is your all time favorite—and why?
Chocolate, for sure! We rarely get any, since it’s not something we can easily make on Eco. The only time I get any chocolate is when I or one of my friends can barter something for it from spacers. Most of the time on Eco we are stuck eating very basic food, like raw or roasted vegetables, or cheese, or things like that. Like everyone on Eco, I’m a vegetarian, because although we have goats and chickens, we only use their eggs and milk – raising animals to eat would be wasteful.
10. Who is your favorite fictional character?
My maternal grandmother, who died before I was born, brought digital copies of every film she could get her hands on to Eco, so we’ve always had movies to watch. Some are really old, but I still love them. One of my favorite characters is in an old film – Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens (and the other films in that series). I love Rey because she is like me – stuck on some barren, frontier planet, with no future. But she knows how to take care of herself, and eventually she fights her way into a new life. I’m willing to do the same!
Thank you Ann for stopping by. I’m looking forward to reading FACSIMILE!
Vicki L. Weavil is an author and librarian. Her debut novel, CROWN OF ICE--a YA retelling of H. C. Andersen's "The Snow Queen"-- was published by Month9Books in 2014. SCEPTER OF FIRE, a companion novel to CROWN OF ICE, will be published in fall 2016. Another companion novel, ORB OF LIGHT, will release in 2017.
Vicki's YA SciFi, FACSIMILE, releases from Month9Books in March 2016, and its sequel, DERIVATION in 2017.
Vicki is a member of SCBWI. She is represented by Fran Black at Literary Counsel, NY, NY.
Vicki's YA SciFi, FACSIMILE, releases from Month9Books in March 2016, and its sequel, DERIVATION in 2017.
Vicki is a member of SCBWI. She is represented by Fran Black at Literary Counsel, NY, NY.
Author Page on Amazon: